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Tue, May 21, 2013
Badgers Hopeful Hill Can Play Saturday
Badgers Hope RB Can Play Saturday
By Lance Allan
MADISON - Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said feature running back P.J. Hill should be available when the Badgers play No. 1 Ohio State on Saturday. But, Bielema himself needed some clarification on Hill's leg injury. "A head coach should probably not talk after the game," Bielema said Monday. "During the course of the game (the trainers) said to me, 'Coach, it looks like he's got a bruise right on top of his plate where he broke it his freshman year.' I thought he broke his foot, I didn't remember him breaking his leg (his freshman year)." Hill hobbled off the field in the first quarter after scoring on fourth-and-1 against Indiana. X-rays on Hill's left foot and leg after the game showed no broken bones. An MRI on Sunday revealed a bruise around the plate in the lower leg of the Badgers' bruising back, Bielema said. "It was very, very sensitive and sore," he said. "We're encouraged that there wasn't any structural damage, just a bruise and hopefully it's something we can get through in a short amount of time." Hill did not practice Sunday, and players were off Monday before preparing for the Buckeyes (9-0, 5-0). Bielema said he's not sure when Hill will practice this week. Wisconsin (7-2, 3-2 Big Ten) went on to beat the Hoosiers 33-3 without Hill. The team scored three more rushing touchdowns, but two of those were from Lance Smith, who is suspended from road games after an altercation this summer and will not play at Ohio State. If Hill can't go, the Badgers will have to rely on freshman Zach Brown, who ran for the fourth score against Indiana. He established career highs with 14 carries for 40 yards and has emerged out of a deep running back class from Bielema's most recent recruiting efforts. "My feeling is you're going to see a very excited No. 30, whether he gets one rep, 30 carries, whatever it is," Bielema said. Wisconsin relies on its power rushing attack with a line that averages 314 pounds to go along with two big fullbacks, Chris Pressley (259 pounds) and Bill Rentmeester (246 pounds). Pressley and Rentmeester also were ailing after Saturday's victory over Indiana, but Bielema said they were fine, too, just beaten up and tired after the game. "It's a physical position, the fullback, especially what we're asking them to do," Bielema said. Hill, who slimmed down from a year ago, ran behind the group last season for 1,569 yards and received Big Ten freshman of the year honors. He has 1,066 yards so far this season to rank ninth on the Badgers' all-time rushing list. He has 29 rushing touchdowns in 22 career games. After losses to Illinois and Penn State, the Badgers beat Northern Illinois and Indiana by a combined score of 77-6. The defense and the overpowering running game have been the biggest reasons for the turnaround, with the Badgers improving to 36-1 since 1998 when holding a time of possession advantage of at least nine minutes. Linebacker DeAndre Levy was named the Big Ten defensive player of the week for his most recent effort after he made eight tackles, had a sack, pass break up, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. "He didn't play well in the Illinois game, and he knew it," Bielema said. "He basically called himself out in the media and said that he will make himself better. From that point forward, (he) has." Smith, who has 354 yards on 55 carries this season, was expected to again be Hill's primary backup after running for 345 yards in his freshman year. Bielema had seemed hopeful during his weekly TV show Sunday that Smith's suspension might be lifted, but he said Monday there wasn't much chance of that happening. "I don't think so," Bielema said. "I've been basically in discussions with different university personnel and been told to remain quiet about the issue. So, I'll remain quiet." Smith pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery and disorderly conduct charges last week. He was charged after a fight with his girlfriend last summer.